I’ve been living my life between two states.
One where I’m the nice girl. The one who bites her tongue as not to offend or upset someone. Stays quiet, stays small.
I allow others to impart their thoughts and feelings in whichever way they want to, that tell me how to live my life, how to look, how to live, how to breathe, without concern of how it cuts into me.
I’ve taken the harsh words, the criticisms. I’ve been ignored, belittled, and everything in between. I’ve allowed my wants and needs to be unheard and ignored.
I didn’t have my own back in favour of believing I had to have the backs of others. Even when their backs were turned to me.
I’ve also been the vicious one. The one who, after too long, has allowed all the things bottled up inside me to explode in a torrent of rage and pain. I’ve spewed vitriol and profanities at those who have hurt me on repeat and been allowed to get away with it.
I’ve been part of a vicious, toxic cycle.
Pain, silence, allowing it all to build up and then throwing it back with a vengeance.
It’s not been a healthy cycle.
The pain, discomfort and disconnection from who I knew I truly was built up inside me and manifested in ways that made me barely recognisable on the outside.
Except to those who saw me in the image that they had created.
I lived as a ticking time bomb.
Never knowing what would set me off and when.
Never knowing what small thing would send me over the edge and unleash the darkest, most violent parts of me.
I tried in vain not to allow that side of me to come out.
I just needed to stay calm, breathe through it, hold on… let the tidal wave come and go.
I had myself convinced that I could just handle it, let it wash over me, and it would go away, but it wouldn’t. It couldn’t.
I needed to learn how to deal with, and release, the negative feelings and pain I’d internalised and bottled up. Those thoughts that rattled around in my head, the heaviness in my heart, the anger in my chest and the pit of my stomach.
I needed to process it.
Find a way to release the negativity, and do it in a way that was safe to do so for everyone involved.
For a few years, I just became numb.
I no longer listened to what I wanted, I didn’t allow myself to care, I didn’t allow myself to feel any joy, and I just allowed myself to float along on the waves of nothingness.
It was easier.
Heavy, but easier.
Or so I thought.
I cut myself off from most things. I stopped putting the same effort into my work. I would hide away from my responsibilities when things started to feel like they were too much. I didn’t engage in relationships with friends and family the way I used to. Romantic relationships have been completely off the table. I would get on a train and hide out in the city away from everyone. I convinced myself that I was doing what was right for me by giving myself space. By walking away.
In some twisted way, I decided that the safest way for me to be was to live my life in solitude.
Cut myself off from those all too easily, repeatedly, causing me pain and discomfort, those that constantly pushed and questioned my beliefs and motives, and ways of being. The ones who, no matter what I did, told me I was wrong. Those few people that took up so much of my time and energy – the loud ones. I stopped engaging with them, but they continued to engage me.
I needed to fade away.
If I faded out of existence, then they wouldn’t feel the need to comment on my choices.
If I stopped giving my thoughts a voice, they’d have nothing to push back against.
If I stopped doing the things that brought me joy, peace and happiness, they had nothing to tell me I’m doing wrong.
And on it went.
I all but disappeared into the void.
In all honesty, when I was asked that, I didn’t realise how much I had. Not to the extent I do today. I’d given up on life as a means of self preservation.
I’d given up on life because I was tired of exploding.
I’d given up on life because I felt I needed to give up doing things my way because it made it easier for others to accept.
I’d given up on life in order to avoid the backlash.
I’d given up on life because it meant I wouldn’t have to defend myself.
I’d given up on life because it was the easier option.
I’d given up on life to appease others.
I’d given up on life because I no longer wanted to hurt others.
I’d given up on life because I was tired. On a deep cellular, soul level.
I didn’t want people to feel like I had some kind of superiority complex, that I was just “showing off” when I was right about something.
I didn’t want to trigger insecurities in people and have them feel bad about themselves.
I stopped living my life so that others could live theirs without feeling like I was trying to compete.
I gave up on life because I felt I was doing those around me a favour.
But in reality, and I realise this now, they never really cared about me, or what I was doing, or how I was living. Not in the way they were proclaiming to.
People weren’t purposefully trying to hurt me because they thought I was wrong.
They did it based on their own defensive wounds.
It was their own self-preservation.
It was their need to feel right and justified about how they lived their lives, especially when they felt they weren’t doing something to the fullest potential.
And in the time it took me to realise that, I’ve learned not to react in the way I used to.
I went to counselling only to find out the thing that was “wrong” was that I wasn’t living my life in the way that I wanted to – I’m sure that’s the case for many people.
I discovered I’d been part of a cycle of behaviour that has its own name and definition in psychology, as most things do. (The Karpman Drama Triangle. Look it up)
I discovered that even though I thought I’d let all that shit go, it was still bottled up inside me, waiting for the next thing to send me over the edge.
Since then I’ve learned how to process and deal with what’s going on inside me.
I’ve learned it’s OK for me to feel what I do and step away until I feel ready to handle the situation without exploding in a fit of rage and lashing out in a bid to hurt someone in retaliation for the way they hurt me.
I’ve also learned that some people just don’t want to hear it. And that’s fine too.
That’s their journey to take, I can’t bring them with me just because I want to, or I feel it’s fair.
That’s just another defence mechanism I’ve been holding onto from before.
I’m stepping out from that cycle.
I’m going to do the thing I’ve known all along is actually the right thing for me.
It means taking time to process what’s going on before responding.
It means recognising and acknowledge how I’m thinking and feeling in the moment, and figuring out what result I want from it.
It means being open and honest in my communications without resorting to anger and frustration.
It means having my own back, no matter what.
It means allowing others to think/feel whatever they want about my choices without feeling the need to defend myself or convince them otherwise.
It means upholding the boundaries that I put in place for my own benefit and not allowing people to impose on them the way I once did.
I’m stepping into a new place.
And for once, I’m genuinely excited to see what comes from it.